Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam, Shekachah Lo B’olamo
Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe, who has such beauty in the world. As summer has passed by all too quickly, I have delighted in watching my three children enjoying the outdoors and the world around them.
All too often I find myself caught up in the busyness of life and forget to notice and be thankful for the many blessings that surround me. One of the reasons I am grateful for my family is that they remind me to appreciate the many small gifts that are a part of every day.
Jewish tradition teaches us to utter brachot (blessings) throughout the day, and in so doing to live at a deeper level of awareness of experiences that we might otherwise miss. In reciting a bracha (blessing), we invite in or recognize God’s presence in our midst. Blessings can be said in any language, and express a kavannah, an intention from one’s heart.
According to the great medieval Jewish philosopher, the RaMBaM – Moses Maimonides, there are three types of blessings:
Birchot HaNehenin – Blessings that we recite before eating, drinking, or smelling nice things.
Birchot HaMitzvot – Blessing that we recite prior to performing a commandment.
Birchot Hodaah – Blessings that express praise of God and give our thanks to God, or ask God for things.
There are traditional blessings for many of these experiences of life; you can find these in the siddur. It is also appropriate to create your own blessing. Begin with the traditional formula: “Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha-olam Praised are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the Universe” and then continue with whatever you want to say – about your life, your health, how you are feeling, something good or bad that has happened, the world, your spouse, your children….
Reciting blessings open us to the potential for holiness in the world, and remind us that everything is interconnected, linking us to the oneness of God.
Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack
Rabbi Audrey S. Pollack is the rabbi of Temple Israel in West Lafayette, Indiana. She is the Midwest Regional Representative of the Women’s Rabbinic Network, a founding member of the Indiana Voices of Women leadership and spirituality group, and a writer of feminist midrash who enjoys singing and playing guitar.